The shipyard life is over. It has been emotional. All the hours, the meetings, the walks around a skeleton of a ship have culminated in Seabourn Encore. The months in Marghera and Mestre, many months for some are now over and as I write our first guests are in their suites.
Where on earth did the time go. I remember arriving at the yard on my very first day nearly 6 months ago. I was a little apprehensive but also immensely proud to be part of an amazing team of people from many disciplines all coming together to build this stunning vessel.
The day before we left the shipyard for the very last time I together with the bridge officers gathered in the main dining room for lunch. It is rare to do this for some of them would otherwise be on the bridge in the normal life of the vessel.
On the morning of the 1st December we let go our ropes and slipped away from Fincantieri shipyard whilst our Godmother Sarah Brightman was piped singing Time to say goodbye with Andrea Bocelli. The yard workers were out waving us off, the foghorn was given a right good testing. We waved back. The sun shone. It was a cool and crisp morning. Perfect conditions to back the ship down the narrow canal to the turning basin where we swung through 90 degrees and headed for the open sea.
The pilots left us and a drone pilot on board took some awesome shots of the ship whilst we were still at low speed. We headed for Piraeus for our very first docking manoeuvre. It was planned, replanned and just for good measure planned again. Just for good measure the tugs were on strike. Typical!
We docked. I relaxed. First one under my belt. It was time to reflect on the past months. What an awesome experience.
So thats it. This is my last posting from my shipyard blog. Time to open a new one for Seabourn Encores voyage to Aotearoa, New Zealand.
The past few weeks have been a blur. The pace of completion of the various spaces onboard has risen dramatically. Many hundreds of outfitters swarm over the vessel adding the finishing touches. Not just to the ship I might add but to us as well as we have been measured for new uniforms in all departments.
I have never seen carpet laid so quickly. It normally takes days to get a kitchen fitted at home yet here wardrobes and book cases and other woodwork is cut and fitted in a matter of hours.
French polishers roam the ship touching up any imperfections their trained eyes see. Gangs of cleaners are polishing, vacuuming, cleaning and tweaking soft furnishings into place.
The crew have moved onboard and gangs of them are distributing the thousands of bits and pieces that need to be put out into position from waste paper baskets to linen to fire extinguishers to boxes of tissues, cleaning chemicals, paint. You name it I see it being transported around the ship into position. All the while the crew chefs keep this army well fed with excellent fare produced in the crew galley.
Safety duties training has started in earnest. A team of training officers from our head office are onboard familiarising the crew with their new duties, with new equipment, with the latest technologies and on it goes. Day in day out. The various fire alarms and klaxons are tested relentlessly. In go the ear plugs to dull the sound of the fire alarm being tested continuously for 2 hours to check the horns and hooters don’t fail whilst a team goes around the ship measuring the decibels to ensure it conforms to the rules.
The ship is coming alive. Systems are coming on line whilst others are being tested and commissioned.
The grey, cool and sometimes very wet weather is not deterring us. Of course it dampens the spirits somewhat but the team spirit is amazing. I see crew in waterproof ponchos in the rain on the quay passing boxes in a line onto the ship. They are chatty and smiling and joking but the work never stops. Time is counting down and there is still much to do.
Various inspectors from our flag state of the Bahamas are due to come soon. We must demonstrate that we know how to use all the new gizmos at our finger tips to deal with whatever situation could possibly arise for the safety of all onboard. Auditors will come to check we have our safety management system onboard, in place and running.
So I will leave you with a few more snaps to keep you going until you come see for yourself.
It is a cool, overcast and misty day here in Venice. The loud frapping noise normally caused by the plastic sheeting is eerily silent. The heavy construction work is over. The whining sound of angle grinders carries across the dock. We are in the final weeks of construction. The smell of welding, hot metal and filler has been replaced with the smells of adhesives, new carpets and leather. The dull metal inner shell of the ship is now clad in new veneers, paint and sparkling glass fittings. She is looking like a Seabourn ship. Sheets of plywood covers the teak decking to protect it from damage. The white sheeting keeps the rain off wood where adhesive is curing.
Scaffolding towers that at one point covered the ship are slowly disappearing. Next door to us the new Carnival ship is rapidly growing in size. The final bow section was lifted into place and the jigsaw puzzle that is the hull is now complete. It has been very interesting seeing her grow over the past few months.
I will leave you with a sneaky peak at one or two of the public rooms. Of course most of them are heavily hidden under protective sheets and so forth but I will let you ponder which space is which.
Work continues in the lower decks where the engineers are testing their systems. On Sunday we carried out what is known as an inclining experiment on the ship. Click on the link to find out more about what this is. It basically determines the stability of the completed ship. It is accomplished by moving a known mass of water combined with measuring the list with a pendulum of known length. The deflection of the pendulum will give the naval architect all they need to calculate our stability. The link will give you all you need to know should you feel so inclined. (pun fully intended).
Most of the actual construction aspects of the ship are now finished and work continues on the fitting out. Most carpets are down and the white coverings you see everywhere protect the panels behind from scratches and dents as people move about.
The retreat structure was craned into place. It looked like a huge spider in the air. Unfortunately my camera battery fizzled out just as I was to take a photo of it. So instead, here it is in situ. It is a very impressive looking structure.
The gym has been completed with the resilient decking put down ready to receive the flooring panels.The equipment is all in the warehouse ready to be installed.
Talking of our warehouse, we receive on a daily basis shipments that contain all the items needed to stock a ship ready for her to sail. In this photo, one of our assistant Computer Systems officers, Mike Manalo is unpacking a container full of computers for all the various offices and internet stations onboard.
The Main Dining Room is coming along very nicely. It is going to be a stunning place to dine. I have picked my table out!
Finally, yesterday we celebrated a milestone birthday for Jan Velthuis, our project manager here in the yard. A Dutchman by birth, now living in Seattle he has become an avid Seattle Seahawks fan. His 2nd floor office is quite obvious to spot from the street.
Here is his birthday cake and the yard team who assembled in his office to help him eat it!
The rooms are really taking shape now. As the soft furnishings go in it is really possible to see the ship coming together.
A large crane was employed to lift a giant sized golf ball shaped object onto a deck high up behind our funnels. Inside the white plastic ball is a satellite antenna dish for the reception of TV signals. The white plastic protects the dish and delicate instruments within from the elements. The dish sits on a set of gimbals that are gyro stabilised so that as the ship turns and moves at sea the dome is always pointing at the satellite. The dome is one of an array of 4, 2 forward and 2 aft for TV and internet.
I would like to introduce two people to you.
Meanwhile the first of all our stores are beginning to arrive into our warehouse ready to go onboard. In a little office tucked away in the corner sit our two storekeepers Arnold and Isabelo. These two guys are key people in the operation in that they are the ones checking whats ordered against what arrives and sorting the warehouse so that we know whats here and where it is, ready to go onboard as soon as we can.
The public rooms are coming along at a pace.
The composite floor of the Grand Salon has been put down. The man above is roughing the surface of it to prepare it for the final covering. Under the shiny red composite is a resilient shock absorbing compound that reduces noise and is also kinder underfoot. Clearly the ship designers have heard of my dancing prowess on the 2010 Odyssey World Cruise when I tried to learn to ballroom dance with abysmal results and have taken steps accordingly. (the ship designers, not me.)
Carpets are going down and covered. Ceiling panels are up and protected. Here the coffee bar in the Seabourn Square is in situ and being plumbed and wired in. I really like the floor coverings.I get a sneaky peek under the plastic governing that you dont get. You will just have to wait and see them in due course.
My final picture of the day is of the Hotel Officers in their amazingly white boiler suits. So white in fact that the finger smudge on the lens of my camera gave them a glow. From L to R, Hotel Director Daniel, Corporate Hotel Direct Guenter, Hotel Project Manager Vitor and Executive Housekeeper Mervi.
I came across some photos today that were taken when the ship left her dock in the Venice shipyard for the very first time still in her undercoat paint before we left on preliminary sea trials. We then headed to Trieste where she got her new paint before returning. I had no idea that these existed. This photo shows the ship leaving her berth and is quite a milestone her life.
The ship was escorted astern out of the shipyard by two tugs while various systems were tested live for the first time. Standing on the bridge watching the yard teams go about their tasks was quite special.
Now I face a bit of a dilemma. Carpets are going down, wood and veneers are being laid, decorative panels are being installed. The conundrum I face is what to show you. I dont want you to see everything. Where would the intrigue be if I showed you everything that was going on? By the same token I want to whet your appetites so I need to tread a fine line here between revealing little gems and issuing spoiler alerts.
So here is a photo showing the carpets going down in the main dining room. I have tried to avoid showing whats going on behind me for thats a little gem for later. The Tihany designs continue to unfold and for those, well you will just have to come and see for yourselves.
The teak decks are down on the decks at the stern of the ships and it looks amazing. The big main swimming pool is completely covered in a big tent to stop any rain getting to the open deck. Here the teak decking is being laid like another big jigsaw. It is just waiting for some sun and bare feet in it. Maybe a few pictures of that will be the next posting.
More of the ships staff are arriving. In particular members of the store keeping department are now here to start receiving into our warehouse all the goodies that are needed to equip a Seabourn ship. Knives, forks, spoons, plates, pots, pans and a million other items all have to be bought, tracked and accounted for. It is like buying everything for a new apartment except on a grand scale.
Thanks for the emails I am getting. I may have made a rod for my own back as I am getting more than I can ever respond too but hope I can answer the questions in these posts. So for those of you that wanted some more photos of the ship at sea I hope the ones above will do. I admit she is not strictly ‘at sea’ but you get the gist.
I left the ship in Trieste to drive back to Venice, get my laundry done and grab a plane on Sunday for Almere in Holland. I was scheduled to join a team of 5 and I on a ship handling course. This was the first time I would interact with the new simulators in our brand new centre of excellence. Well, I thought the old simulators were good. These new ones eclipse them by miles. They really are something quite special. So life like. What is more is that the arrangement of the equipment and the actual selection of instruments mirrors our new bridge designs on our new build ships including Seabourn Encore.
Whilst in New Zealand I bought a NZ Silver Fern flag for the two kiwis to adorn their skyline apartment. Known as Casa Kiwi the idea of the flag was to advertise their presence to a bunch of Australians that live close by. I have yet to confirm whether the Trans Tasman rivalry carries on in Venice.
Not to be outdone by their colleagues another bunch of our officers sent me a photo of them crammed into one of our little cars on the commute to the shipyard from Venice. It’s a tiny car that is supposed to seat 5 people. Not this one.
Driving is our Project Manager Jan Velthuis. He is over 6 feet tall and just about fits the car. Next to him is Marco who is one of our Technical Officers. He is a keep fit fan and is built like a brick privy. The two of them fill the front. Shoe horned into the back is left Pekka Piipsa, our Chief Engineer, in the middle is First Officer Patrick Kilbane and Riccardo who is our Refrigeration Engineer is squeezed to the right. They spent over an hour and a half like this. Got to feel for Patrick!
The ship handling course is designed to refresh my knowledge of a few techniques and also to give the more junior officers important knowledge to take back to their ships to put into practice. It is also a chance for the instructors to check I have not picked up any bad habits. Pity they dont do this for driving cars where we all pick up little habits we perhaps should not. The model that the simulator was programmed with was the Royal Princess. She is a 330 metre long, 8.6 metre draft behemoth. She is a beautiful looking ship and compared to the Seabourn ships was a completely different beast to handle. However the techniques apply equally to handling her. Compare a Rolls Royce to a Mini. Different cars same basic techniques to drive them.
My instructor was Hein Arendsen. He is a Dutch marine pilot of many years and a good instructor to us.
I took a drive around to the yard this morning to catch a glimpse of the ship in her new paint. She looks stunning in the sunlight. I will update you more tomorrow from the yard in Venice. So, I leave you with a few photos from Trieste taken by our Safety Officer Franko of the ship sporting her new coat of paint. Note the ships name is still to be picked out in black.
I have been back in Venice now for 10 days and I thought it was about time I sent an update to you.
My first few days back was spent getting ready to join the Seabourn Encore on a short time at sea before going to Trieste shipyard. Let me explain.
The ship is at the point in her life where the machinery and the ship herself needs to be tested. Any major problems with propellors and so forth need to be found now when we still have time to correct them. The Seabourn team were onboard as observers because until we take delivery of the vessel from the shipyard we are not the owners. So, the builders, Fincantieri had their own Captain and crew onboard together with around 400 technicians and us.
We left the shipyard on Friday morning and spent the rest of the day, Saturday and most of Sunday putting the ship through her paces testing various bits of equipment. We zig zagged at high speed to test rudders and propellors and bearings. We ran slow and fast to test the propulsion, we dropped anchors and lifted them and dropped them again. We spun around using the thrusters. You must remember that this is the first time any of these units have been run in earnest in the life of the vessel.
We are now in Fincantieri’s Trieste dry dock. The one in Venice already has a new Carnival ship under construction occupying it. Here will be get our final coats of paint on both the sides, tops and hull of the ship. When she leaves here she will look stunning.
The dry dock gave me a chance to see the parts of the ship normally hidden from view under the sea. I will leave you with some photos that hopefully give you an idea what I am talking about. Incidentally I slept in suite 619 on Friday and Saturday nights on a temporary bed. That suite will forever be special to me now. I was the very first person to use it albeit in a rather spartan state right now.
I hope this brings you up to date and gives some idea behind the scenes what is going on. Ciao Ciao.
I am on leave until August 15th when I shall return from New Zealand to Venice. Once back I will update you all with progress.
Thanks for watching.
I have been away in Almere at our brand new simulator centre doing a course to refresh my knowledge on ship stability. What an amazing place it is. The new simulators really are like life itself.
I have returned to the shipyard in Venice and have been catching up with progress over the past days.The public rooms are coming along nicely. This morning the first of the new teak decking sections was being laid. This is 7 deck aft. You may recall that I visited the factory where all this was being prepared and here it is.
The other big change I have seen is the amount of panelling going up around the ship and also the progress in the Main Dining Room.
The new Tihany designs are taking shape. The structure to hold the new panels and decor is being installed. My click and snap photos do not do them justice. Its going to be amazing.
Areas of the ship are being painted with final coats. This is deck 5 aft in front of the aft pool. The pool is tented in because the special pool coating is being applied and it must be kept dry until it has cured. It also happens to be the hottest place on the ship. I spent 5 minutes in that tent and gently poached myself.
The hoops and loops are wires masked up for the paint process. The wires eventually will be for lighting, speakers and such like.
I will leave you with a photo of myself sitting on what will become the main stage checking out where to stand in the Grand Salon to speak to the guests. Just getting prepared is all! The next day and a half will be spent travelling to Hamburg to test all the electronic navigational wizardry that will be installed on the bridge at the manufacturers premises. This checks that all is well before its put in place.